In this series, I’ve contemplated how the Canucks could achieve their “rebuild on the fly” goal of winning now while incrementally moving towards becoming a contender again.
In the first part of the series, I argued that the Canucks should look to move Chris Higgins, the rights to Shawn Matthias, and 2016 UFA’s Radim Vrbata, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis in exchange for draft picks (2 x late 1st, 2 x 2nds, a 5th and a prospect) and $16.6M in cap space. In the second and third parts of the series, I looked at unrestricted free agent targets worth looking at on forward and on defense.
In a recent post, I introduced the concept of Prospect Cohort Success % (PCS%) and Prospect Cohort Success Points-per-game (PCS Pts/GM) which are quantitative metrics to better evaluate draft prospects. I’ll be using them here to identify players the Canucks should target. The basic theory is that if you look at the closest comparables to a particular prospect in terms of age, height, points per game, and league, the insights you learn from that prospect’s peers can be informative when assessing their likelihood of future success.
Join me after the jump to see some players that PCS% flags as potential first round targets.
Using PCS% to Maximize Draft Pick Value
After the theoretical trades above, the Canucks go into the 2015 draft with the following picks:
|Round||# of picks|
Now, in reality, if they did make the moves I’ve proposed, they’d likely take some of these as 2016/17 picks rather than all in 2015. They also should consider whether or not they can package some of these picks to move up in the draft. While Eichel and McDavid will clearly be off the table, if there’s a package that could put them in the vicinity of drafting a Strome, Marner, Hanifin, or Barzal, the Canucks should absolutely consider it. However, for the simplicity of this exercise I’ve assumed they’ll keep the picks and have targeted players accordingly.
I’ve used the current consensus ranks from Corey Pronman, Craig Button, CSS, ISS, McKeens, Future Considerations, and Hockey Prospects.com. My process will be simple: aggregate the consensus rankings and highlight the best players available by PCS% and PCS Pts/GM.
|Name||Position||Team||League||Consensus||P/GM||PCS%||PCS P/GM||PCS N|
|Evgeni Svechnikov||LW||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||16||1.42||50%||0.48||27|
|Anthony Beauvillier||LW/C||Shawinigan Cataractes||QMJHL||26||1.40||38%||0.52||42|
|Daniel Sprong||RW||Charlottetown Islanders||QMJHL||20||1.29||37%||0.48||98|
|Filip Chlapik||C||Charlottetown Islanders||QMJHL||33||1.17||35%||0.49||101|
|Michael Spacek||C||HC Pardubice||Czech||38||0.30||33%||0.61||32|
|Nick Merkley||C||Kelowna Rockets||WHL||17||1.25||32%||0.46||68|
|Jansen Harkins||C||Prince George Cougars||WHL||21||1.13||29%||0.47||118|
Many of the names above may be familiar to Canucks Army faithful. Recently, Rhys had an excellent piece last week on Beauvillier, Harkens, and Rasmus Andersson, which I highly recommend reading (especially the links). I’ve written on Sprong and Merkley in the past, as well as Spacek, so I won’t spend a a lot of re-hashing prior articles, but needless to say throughout the remainder of the season each of these players continued to build open very solid draft years since I last reported on them.
Filip Chlapik made his debut in the QMJHL this year, having played in the prior year for HC Sparta Praha in the Czech U20 league. He’s also represented the Czech Republic internationally at the U16, U17, and U18 levels. To gain a bit of insight into how this season went for him in the QMJHL, I reached out to Jerome Berube, HockeyProspect.com’s head scout for the QMJHL.
Berube praised Chlapik as a solid two way forward, who makes
smart plays at both ends of the ice. Based on prior viewings, Berube had
expected Chlapik to be more of a defensive specialist, but noted that Chlapik
was solid offensively, even outshining highly touted teamate Daniel Sprong in some viewings. According
to Berube, the main aspect of the game which is holding him back is his skating,
which needs work, and could result in him slipping out of the first round.
For me, this review was pretty encouraging. Chlapik’s offensive production was solid enough to result in a very strong PCS% and PCS P/GM, so hearing that his defensive play is well developed, bodes well for his chances. As we’ve seen with Bo Horvat, skating is an area where prospects can develop significantly over time, so this may be an opportunity to grab at a spot lower than they deserve.
In my opinion, the real gem of this group, and likely a pipe dream, is Evgeni Svechnikov. His highest ranking came from Corey Pronman at #9, while the rest had him rated in the high teens and low twenties. He has roughly same frame as Lawson Crouse, but a much higher PCS%, due to his scoring prowess he demonstrated this year. I asked Berube about Svechnikov as well, and he characterized Svechnikov as a pure offensive guy, with high end upside, shot, and vision. Like with Chlapik, Berube noted that Svechnikov’s skating needs work. Berube also noted that Svechnikov started the year injured, and was passed over by the Russian national team for the world juniors, both of which could negatively impact his draft stock, but Berube expects that Svechnikov could be dominant next season.
There were many comments in the first few parts of this series expressing concern around moving Vrbata and Hamhuis, and replacing them with talent available on the UFA market. The real value of these moves would be in acquiring the 1st round picks enabling them to land a Jansen Harkins, Filip Chlapik, or maybe even an Evgeni Svechnikov if they get lucky.
Many of you will quite rightly note the lack of elite defense prospects in the Canucks system and wonder why I haven’t tried to address this with the 3 theoretical first round selections available. The answer is that in this particular draft, there is very strong depth on defense, many of the ones we most highly covet will be available in the second round. These players will be the focus of my next installment, and 5th part of this series.